The Chicago Cubs continue to open up the checkbook to sign later round, overslot draft picks. The latest player into the fold is junior college first baseman Roderick “Rock” Shoulders. The Cubs took Shoulders, 19, in the 25th round hoping that they could entice him out of a commitment to South Florida. A reported third round money offer, plus additional funds for college, did just that.
Shoulders, who was drafted by the Red Sox in the 20th round out of high school last year, was a top 20 positional player nationally in a number of offensive categories.
If nothing else, Shoulders becomes the next in a long, proud line of brilliant names once in the Cubs’ system, including such standouts as Rocky Cherry, Al Albuquerque, Mario Mercedes, and the still best of all (part-time porn star) Buck Coats.
Shoulders, it should be noted, was not expected to sign once the Cubs came to terms with seventh rounder Trevor Gretzky (another big first baseman type) and slugging 19th round first baseman Paul Hoilman – not to mention the Cubs working hard to sign second round first baseman Dan Vogelbach. Hopefully the Shoulders signing does not suggest trouble with the Vogelbach or Gretzky signings.
To the latter, Gretzky’s status recently changed from officially signed to officially unsigned. It’s unclear whether the agreement was voided by the Cubs (Gretzky is recovering from a shoulder injury) or by MLB (it was presumably overslot), but as of right now, Gretzky is not signed. Baseball America’s Jim Callis does not seemed concerned, though, and suggests an “official” agreement is a mere formality, noting that Gretzky told San Diego State weeks ago that he wouldn’t be attending in the Fall.
Perhaps Vogelbach is the one about whom to be concerned. He was known to want first round money to forego his commitment to play baseball at Florida, going so far as to circulate a term sheet before the draft, essentially saying “don’t draft me unless you’re willing to pay $X.” The Cubs did draft him, and every rumor since has had Vogelbach in the bag. I have no new information leading me to believe that doesn’t remain the case, but, the Shoulders signing does give me momentary pause. It’s worth pointing out that, although Vogelbach is strictly viewed as a first baseman, Gretzky can play some outfield, and Shoulders played third base and catcher in high school.